Saturday, October 7, 2017

Starting Over (Joy Preble)

We talk a lot about starting over. Fresh starts. Do overs. We have a lot of language for it. We like the hopeful idea of it--that if we journey to a new place, we will be successful or safe or happy or at least not what we were when we began.

About twelve years ago, I started writing seriously. Maybe a few years before that, actually, but there were fits and starts as I figured it out, and I was teaching five English classes and raising a child and doing a million other things that filled the hours, but something inside me had clicked and kept saying "Write! Write!" So I did.

It changed everything. I loved (and still love) teaching. But I had never given my all to my art and now I was and with some luck and timing (both of which are often everything), I found an agent, sold a book and went on from there. My world grew exponentially. The authors and editors and publishers and book sellers who are in my life now, making it a richer, fuller place, would never be here with me if I hadn't taken that leap. It was stunning really, finding these people who are my tribe, realizing that they were all out there but had I not pushed for change I would never have met them, never have counted them among my most cherished of friends and acquaintances.

I'm in the middle of starting again right now, although this one is less obvious. Last year, after having been fortunate to write full time and teach part time for five years, I needed a change. Some of it was money. Some of it was hitting that wall that some of us hit. I'd published seven books quickly and that next story wasn't coming as easily. I needed something else to fill that well again. A job at a local indie bookstore came my way. I took it, even though it meant more hours away from writing. I needed to learn again, to immerse myself in a different piece of the industry. So once again, I leaped. Slowly, painfully, the book I'd been struggling with started to take form. After finally getting that full draft, I started it over, too. I think now it's the book I was always aiming for. We shall see. Publishing isn't the same as it was a decade ago either. We're all of us constantly reinventing.

Of course these are small starting overs. I'm in Houston and many people around me are rebuilding houses and routines and lives after Harvey and 51 plus inches of rain that wouldn't stop.

Still. Sometimes you need to rip out the walls of your life. Or paint it a different color. Or whatever. Sometimes you are forced to. Sometimes you simply know it's time.


  1. So glad this path has led to a new possibility. Sharing on Facebook.

  2. "Sometimes you need to rip out the walls of your life." What a great line--and a true statement! It's terrific those "renovations" helped you to move forward.

  3. Oh, man, I love that line about ripping the walls out of your life.